Ireland: Balance of probabilities coupled with benefit of the doubt constitute the correct standard of proof for credibility assessments

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

In a judgment delivered in O.N. & I.N. v. Refugee Appeals Tribunal on 17th January 2017 by O’Regan J. of the Irish High Court, it was held that the correct standard of proof to be used in assessing credibility of an asylum seeker in relation to events that have taken place in the past is that of the balance of probabilities. This is the civil burden of proof in common law countries and means that something has more than a fifty percent chance of occurring. The judge also included in that the use of the benefit of the doubt.
This affirms the distinction between future risk and past persecution in terms of the standard of proof applied. O’Regan J. noted that there is no universally accepted standard, but that there is no standard set at Irish law or in the 2004 Qualification Directive. The standard of the balance of probabilities for past events is used in the UK and Canada and UNHCR have also expressed support for it, coupled with, where appropriate, the benefit of the doubt. It was also noted that the US uses a much lower standard of proof.


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Burden of proof
Persecution (acts of)
Previous persecution